Archive for August, 2011

How Will the Columbia Free Trade Agreement Affect You?

August 18th, 2011

On Aug 15, 2011 the Canada – Columbia Free Trade Agreement came into force. I took a quick look at the agreement and the possible impact for our customers and Canadian business in general.

Currently, total Canadian imports and exports are about $400 billion of goods each way, each year. That number is about $650 million (each way) between Canada and Columbia. Free trade agreements like this one, allow companies to buy and sell goods to each other duty free. My initial impression- this will be a significant factor to encourage increased trade between our countries – not so.

What Do Canadian Businesses Buy from Columbia

Petroleum and Coal $300 million
Coffee, fruits, vegetables and cut flowers $325 million
Other stuff $75 million

What Do Canadian Businesses Sell to Columbia

Wheat, Oats and Cereals $240 million
Machinery, vehicles, chemicals $210 million
Other stuff $150 million

Looking at the above list, petroleum, coal, coffee, fruits and vegetables were already duty free entering Canada…even without a free trade agreement. The bottom line? It’s no big deal unless you import cut flowers, then you can save an additional 6%.

Something to add? We welcome your comments!

10 Tips for Providing Superior Customer Service

August 15th, 2011

I think everyone would agree that keeping an existing customer is easier than finding a new one. It takes time to create a relationship and gain the trust of a customer. We all need to keep that fact in the forefront of our daily activities to ensure customer retention and growth for our business.

Many times, customers will never really know or fully understand what goes on behind the scenes to provide consistent and timely service. That’s okay. It’s a part of being in business we need to accept. Treat your customers like they’re important and keep these 10 tips close by to discuss with your team on a regular basis.

  1. Listen – Pay attention, don’t multitask when you are talking with a client. You need to be able to grasp what your clients’ issues are in order to ensure successful resolution.
  2. Know Your Stuff – This is not a guessing game, if someone calls in, or emails you with a concern, they want to know that they have contacted the right person with the answers they need.
  3. Deliver on PromisesNever promise more than you can deliver. This is one of the easiest ways to lose a client’s trust and business.
  4. Friendly Attitude – Approach your work with a positive attitude and let your customer know you are happy to help with their situation.
  5. Take Action – Let your client know you are on the job and you will take care of their needs right away.
  6. Communicate – Concise communication is key to make sure you and your client are on the same page and are satisfied with the conclusions you have reached.
  7. Be Professional – Follow up to let your customers know everything is on schedule. Use appropriate language and industry lingo to describe your job and the situation with the right balance of simplification and technical terms.
  8. Educate – Let your client know what you are going to do for them and let them know how to minimize this problem in the future.
  9. Admit mistakes – Mistakes will happen, a customer appreciates when you are accountable for your actions. How you deal with a mishap can bring you even closer with your customer.
  10. Be Human – All of the points above will show you care about your company and your customers’ satisfaction. Nobody likes dealing with machines when it comes to customer service, so put a face to your business and always offer a helping hand.

We would love to hear from you to see what you think makes for great customer service. The more contributors, the better!